BY Prince Abraham Chukwuebuka
The Director-General of World Trade Organisation, WTO, Professor Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Tuesday said as the person at the helm of the World body, she alongside her team will do their best to support Nigeria at this difficult time.
She stated this while speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Prof. Okonjo-Iweala flanked by the former Minister of State for Health during the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Mohammed Ali Pate, said they saw the President and that the focus of their discussion was on what they would do to support Nigeria.
The DG WTO said they are contemplating a grassroot programme that they could put in place to help the young people as well as women.
Prof. Okonjo-Iweala said the WTO would look at the kind of trade can do for the people on agriculture, textile and even in establishing pharmaceutical industry
According to the DG WTO, “We want to help them in digital trade so that they can create more jobs.”
She said, “We saw the President and the focus was on how do we support Nigerians at this time of need.
“We all know that things are very difficult for Nigerians outside, everyone is struggling. I’m here myself on a quiet visit. So this was not really an official WTO mission but we’re able to engage with Mr. President, talk about what are the kinds of programmes that could be put in place to make sure that the suffering of Nigerians are being alleviated.
“And we had a really good conversation on trying to look at the community and grassroots programmes that can be put in place to create jobs for young people, trying to support women and children, who are bearing the brunt of some of the suffering in the country.
“We talked about how for the longer term, we need to do that investment opportunities that Nigeria can cease including in the pharmaceutical industry.
“We also talked about what type of support the World Trade Organization can bring. We’re already working in Nigeria with women in particular, who own small and medium enterprises to try to help them upgrade the quality of their products. Whether it’s in the agricultural area, in textiles and in other areas so that they can sell more internationally.
“We’re trying to help them with digital trade. So how do we train and empower Nigerian women and owners of small and medium enterprises so that they can trade more and create more jobs?
“So that is what’s needed now, helping Nigerians to alleviate the difficult conditions that they are in.
“So that is what we discussed with Mr. President and as the Director General of the World Trade Organization, we are going to try to do the most we can to support Nigerians at this particular time.
Also speaking, Dr. Pate said that President Tinubu was fully aware of the difficulties people are facing and that efforts being made to alleviate it.
He said, “I think the DG has mentioned the purpose of this visit. I think I’ll just reaffirm, that Mr. President is fully aware of the difficulties that people are facing, and committed and I think he is doing all that he can and with his team to ensure that those sufferings are alleviated.
“That was the main thrust of the conversation that we had in terms of targeting those who are most vulnerable, women, children, youth, attracting investment opportunities, that can grow the economy so that people will get some succour because the difficulties that we’re facing is transitory.
“I think with the vision of the President there’s reason to be very hopeful that we’ll navigate through this difficult time and have a Nigeria that sees us stronger, united and conspired to the greatness that is in our future.
“So Mr. President also discussed with us some of the vision on health that he has and I think is great to see that health is one area where it connects everyone.
“Health affects everyone from the policy side, regulatory side, pharmaceuticals and quality of pharmaceuticals, the financing side, in terms of financial protection, health insurance, and all those elements, primary health care in every nook and cranny of this country, folks have ailments like malaria, vaccinations, treatment of basic diseases with primary healthcare system, as well as hospital care, which is very important.
“Because sometimes you have primary healthcare. And Mr President is very committed to all those policy interventions, not only on health, but in all other arenas that will bring succour to this country and to move our economy for the greatness that is in our future.
“So that was really the purpose of this very fruitful discussion with Mr. President.”